Right Thinking From The Left Coast
The Government is merely a servant -- merely a temporary servant; it cannot be its prerogative to determine what is right and what is wrong, and decide who is a patriot and who isn't. Its function is to obey orders, not originate them. - Mark Twain

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McCain on The Roots

From George Will:

Palin may be an inveterate simplifier; McCain has a history of reducing controversies to cartoons. A Republican financial expert recalls attending a dinner with McCain for the purpose of discussing with him domestic and international financial complexities that clearly did not fascinate the senator. As the dinner ended, McCain’s question for his briefer was: “So, who is the villain?”

McCain revived a familiar villain—“huge amounts” of political money—when Barack Obama announced that he had received contributions of $150 million in September. “The dam is broken,” said McCain, whose constitutional carelessness involves wanting to multiply impediments to people who want to participate in politics by contributing to candidates—people such as the 632,000 first-time givers to Obama in September.

Why is it virtuous to erect a dam of laws to impede the flow of contributions by which citizens exercise their First Amendment right to political expression? “We’re now going to see,” McCain warned, “huge amounts of money coming into political campaigns, and we know history tells us that always leads to scandal.” The supposedly inevitable scandal, which supposedly justifies preemptive government restrictions on Americans’ freedom to fund the dissemination of political ideas they favor, presumably is that Obama will be pressured to give favors to his September givers. The contributions by the new givers that month averaged $86.

Here’s the thing.  One of McCain’s signature accomplishments was the Incumbent Re-Election Act McCain–Feingold Act.  We were told that we had to give up our right to, for example, run issues ads within 60 days of an election in order to clean up the political process.

How’d that work out?  Politics is clean now, right?  No scandals or corruption?  Nothing like, say, the most senior Republican senator in history going to prison?  The special interests have been completely neutered, no?


Well, in his defense, it did get a lot of media plaudits.  To the GOP these days, that’s about as successful as policy gets.

I was a big supporter of McCain earlier this year because I liked his judgement on foreign policy and saw him as a true fiscal conservative.  But it’s becoming clearer and clearer that McCain’s positions, while overlapping with many of my own, are not the product of careful thought.  They’re reactions, gut instincts.  Whatever you think of Barack Obama (or Ron Paul), it’s remarkable that he’s raising so much money from such a broad base of small contributors.  I don’t like it, per se.  I worry that this is going to simply lead to even more populist pandering.  But it’s certainly not something I believe in cracking down on.

But here is McCain’s thinking:  Money!  Scandal!  Off with their heads!  We saw the same thing with his VP pick: woman, social conservative, bulldog—how about that chick from Alaska I met once?  We saw it with his reaction to the financial crisis:  Ban short selling!  Fire Cox!  Throw money at it!  And before that in the Russia-Georgia situation.

Instinct is a dangerous way of governing, as we’ve discovered over the last eight years.  We have no idea what dangers are going to confront this country in the future.  We do know they will require someone who approaches them thoughtfully, not instinctively.  I’m not saying that Barack Obama is that person—his careful deliberate thought seems to always end up in the same far left place.  But I’m increasingly convinced that McCain is the wrong person for this, that his instinctive need to find a simple solution and identify easy villains is a poor way for country to proceed—and an even worse way for the GOP to build a future.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 10/30/08 at 09:57 AM in Election 2008 • Permalink


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